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Stephanie Woo - Pepperdine Magazine

Surviving the Storm

Pepperdine Magazine is the feature magazine for Pepperdine University and its growing community of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends.

Stephanie Woo Shares Tips and Advice for Coping with the Economic Downturn


Whether reading the morning newspaper, listening to the radio, or watching the evening news, it’s easy to be flooded with gloomy financial news. It’s also normal to feel some anxiety, depression, anger, or helplessness about real losses you or your loved ones may have suffered. But the thoughts or conclusions you draw about the current economic situation can make an important difference between keeping the negative feelings in check and letting them spiral out of control.

How can Pepperdine help?

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First, avoid catastrophizing (thinking in extreme terms like “always” and “never”). Take a deep breath, step back, and make an objective appraisal about your situation—are there opportunities to make changes, go in different directions, or be grateful for things that are going well? Considering these potential positives doesn’t signal a neglect of real concerns, but instead indicates more balanced thinking, which can improve your mood and coping ability.

When feeling overwhelmed, recall a time when you dealt with adversity successfully and remind yourself of the thoughts and behaviors that got you through those challenges. Avoid the trap of believing that constantly turning things over in your mind keeps you on top of a difficult situation; this can easily lead to unproductive, anxious rumination.

Although it sounds unusual, set aside a limited amount of time each day for worrying. Then you can go on with other activities without apprehension permeating the day. During this focused worry time make a distinction between realistic concerns you can actively address and worries about low-probability events. It can help to recall the serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Of course, it’s important to recognize when depression or anxiety have escalated to the point where additional help is needed. If feelings of sadness occur most of the day for two weeks or more and are accompanied by a number of difficulties such as sleeping or eating problems, excessive fatigue, lack of interest in usual activities, problems concentrating, and extremely self-critical thoughts, and these symptoms are causing difficulties at work or in your personal life, this could signal a more serious depression warranting consultation with a mental health professional. If anxiety is causing an inability to focus at work, avoidance of people or situations, or increased conflict with family, friends, or coworkers, it may also help to talk with someone.

During stressful economic times, therapy can seem like an unnecessary luxury. But if emotional difficulties are significantly interfering with one’s quality of life and ability to function, this resource can be vital.

Dr. Woo is an associate professor of psychology at GSEP. She also serves as the Malibu program director for the master of arts in clinical psychology.

Counseling is one way to enhance your coping skills. GSEP manages three counseling clinics at which members of the Pepperdine community can receive low-fee counseling services. The clinics are open to the public, and provide affordable, high-quality, individualized counseling within a supportive and accepting environment. To make an appointment call the clinics toll-free at 866.396.8970, or for more information visit gsep.pepperdine.edu/clinics/.

How Pepperdine Can Help You Survive the Downturn

When the economy closes a door, Pepperdine University opens a window for its alumni. Here are a few ways in which you can turn to your alma mater for support when times are tough.

Expand Your Network - Connect with fellow alumni through chapter events in your area. Through PAN Online, you can also reach out to your old professors, classmates, and internship contacts to explore new avenues of employment.


Invest in Yourself - Apply to a graduate program at any of the five graduate schools at Pepperdine University. We offer campuses in four, convenient locations, as well as a new distance learning programs through the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. 

MS in Learning Design and Technology

Utilize the Career Center - Whether you're a graduate of Seaver College or one of our graduate schools, Pepperdine University has ample resources and career services include counseling, job listings, resume review, career assessment, and career contact information for alumni to use.


Engage in Lifelong Learning - With Pepperdine's new iTunes U initiative, you can watch lectures, classes, and symposia from anywhere in the world. Our Web site also includes video and audio clips of many lectures given by distinguished visitors and faculty.

Keep the Faith – Pepperdine University's commitment to providing a place of faith and worship for students does not end upon graduation. The Center for Faith and Learning, Church Relations, and the Boone Center for the Family offer a range of events from the 5th Annual Women in Ministry Conference to the Annual Bible Lectures that are open to anyone. Also, every day of the year, from early morning until late at night, Stauffer Chapel offers you a place of prayer, contemplation, and worship.